Covid: Taoiseach rules out another Christmas lockdown

Micheál Martin said the country would be back in lockdown were it not for the vaccine campaign
Covid: Taoiseach rules out another Christmas lockdown

Vivienne Clarke

The Taoiseach has ruled out the possibility of another lockdown around the Christmas period.

Amid rising Covid-19 case numbers, Micheál Martin said the country would be back in lockdown were it not for the vaccine campaign.

He told Today FM’s Dermot & Dave show that the country was in a different position now because of the vaccine rollout and said he does not anticipate a dramatic return of restrictions.

“I don’t see Christmas lockdowns,” Mr Martin said, but added that the high number of cases at present was worrying.

Mr Martin said he expected the vaccine booster campaign to be expanded, but added that people’s behaviour was also important.

One in 25

Officials from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) meet on Thursday to decide if further measures are needed to tackle high infection rates.

While earlier models suggest cases should peak towards the end of November, officials said there was “no guarantee” this would happen given current trends.

Infections are rising in all counties and in all age groups, but especially among 19- to 24-year-olds. A drop in incidence among over-85s is being attributed to the administration of booster vaccines to this group.

With one in 25 of the population infected over the past fortnight – and almost 3,000 more cases reported yesterday – officials said the risk of meeting an infectious person now is higher than at any point in the pandemic.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that the Government is not considering a full time return to working from home, after it was reported that returning to a full work-from-home policy is being considered to control rapidly rising cases.

Personal

The Taoiseach said he was “very orientated” towards getting things done and the pandemic had put pressure on and slowed down many projects. “That makes me anxious and that makes me worried,” he said.

In a personal interview on the Dermot & Dave show, Mr Martin said indulging in dark chocolate, watching documentaries late at night and reading a few chapters of a book are his way of coping with the pressures of his job.

He said he can be “cranky and impatient” at the pace of progress and gets frustrated when he wants something done within a month, but is told that it will take six months.

Mr Martin said walking and getting in his 10,000 steps every day are also important to him. He said he was a night owl and liked to indulge in a square of 70 per cent cocoa dark chocolate. “That’s my vice.”

“I do watch my food. I am a fruit salad person – and green tea,” he added.

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